Looking for great gardening tips? Who doesn’t want the most out of their garden? I’ve never felt like much of a “green thumb” gardener. I don’t know all the tricks and I don’t always even know what I’m doing. I’ve been trying to teach my kids about gardening, but I want them to know more than just how to garden – I want them to know all of the tricks out in the garden as well.
So, what are the best gardening tips? There are literally thousands of methods to improve the quality, appearance, growth, and production of your garden.
Since these “hacks” were spread out all over the internet I decided I’d compile a fairly hefty list of what I discovered. It’s not a complete list – like I said, there are thousands of these “hacks,” but these were the most common and most useful hacks I could find. Please feel free to share yours with me as well.
4 Watering Hacks
- Terracotta stakes + wine bottle – Keep your plants watered by placing a terracotta stake in your soil and then placing a wine bottle full of water into the terracotta stake. The water will slowly seep out into the soil through the terracotta. This helps keeps your plant’s root system moist.
- Old Milk Jug – Use an old milk jug to water your plants when you don’t have a watering can available. Just heat up a needle and poke some holes in the lid of the jug so that the water can flow through it gently. This works great!
- Paper towels & a cup of water – If you’re headed on vacation and worried about your plants consider rolling up some paper towels tightly (but not to the point of breaking) to create a sort of “paper towel rope” and placing one end of your newly created rope in a cup of water while laying the rest of the rope across the soil near your plants. The water will use the paper towel to slowly move from the cup to the soil, keeping your plants nice and watered while you’re away. This works best for potted, indoor plants.
- Cooking water – Think of all the nutrients that are often left in a cooking pot and poured down the sink! Instead of pouring them down the sink just use them in your garden to help fertilize! Cooking water from boiling eggs or steaming vegetables makes for great fertilizer after the water has cooled down.
4 Pest Control Hacks
- Coffee grounds – I’m not a coffee drinker so I don’t personally use this hack, but I hear it works great! Just take your old coffee grounds and mix them into your soil to help keep ants, snails, slugs, and other small pests away. I hear there are many more uses for coffee grounds in your garden, so if you know of any please feel free to let me know and I’ll add them to this list!
- Eggshells – While I don’t drink coffee, I do eat plenty of eggs so this hack is definitely something I use in my garden. Crumbled up eggshells are great at producing a barrier against a number of pests that are after your plants like slugs and snails. The crushed up eggshells have sharp edges and hurt these small pests so they just stay away.
- Herbs – In a container about 70cm across plant six Lemon Thyme, three Ageratum “Artist Purple,” three Lemon Grass, two Catnip, two Marigold “Lemon Gem,” and one Citronella Geranium. This combination will prevent mosquitoes and flies. Many of these herbs can reduce and prevent mosquitoes and flies on their own and I often place these herbs alongside compatible vegetables in my garden to improve taste and overall production.
- Beer – I don’t drink alcohol, but a friend told me about this and it’s pretty awesome so I figured I’d share. You can bury some beer cans in the soil so that the can opening is level with the ground and the slugs and bugs and snails will fall into the can while trying to get drunk. They can’t swim, so they’ll die drunk and happy and you won’t have so many bugs in your garden. The downside (for some of you) is that the container/can needs to have some beer in it so the bugs have something to go after. An empty beer can won’t have the same effect.
2 Disease Prevention Hacks
- Use cinnamon powder on seedlings to help prevent disease. The cinnamon has great anti-fungal traits that can prevent and stop the spread of disease on your little seedlings…and who doesn’t love the smell of cinnamon?!?
- Hydrogen Peroxide – Not only is it great at cleaning wounds, but it’s also great at preventing root rot and diseases on your plants. Spray a 1 part hydrogen peroxide 32 parts water mixture near the base of your plants to improve the root systems and prevent fungal disease.
6 Soil Improvement Hacks
- Baking Soda & Vinegar – A quick and easy way to check the alkaline and acidity of your soil is with baking soda and vinegar. If your soil bubbles when you add vinegar then you have alkaline soil. If your soil bubbles when you add baking soda then the soil is acidic. Although this doesn’t give you exact results like a true pH test, it’s a great alternative and easy way to get an idea of what kind of soil you’re working with.
- Pennies – My kids think pennies are pure gold (not literally, but they LOVE pennies). We have a lot of pennies around and frankly, they make for good “treasures” to find in the garden. In reality, I put them there because copper is a great way to kill the fungus. Newer pennies don’t contain much copper, but real copper pennies are great at improving your soil and killing fungus as the copper seeps into the soil.
- Tinkle, Pee, Take a leak – whatever you call it, you can do it in your garden to help improve your soil. I know, it sounds stupid, but if your boys gotta go and he’s outside you can tell him to go in the garden. Urine contains a lot of nitrogen which makes for strong leaves and lush plants. I wouldn’t recommend urinating directly on a plant, but urinating in the soil, followed by watering (to dilute the concentration) really can improve your garden. Weird and gross at the same time!
- Weeds – I know, you do your best to kill the weeds and keep them from ever coming back. But have you ever thought about what you could do with the weeds that do make it through all your barriers of protection? When you pull weeds you should chop them up, place them in some water, and leave them in the sun for a few days. This makes for some nitrogen-rich water that can then be sprayed around your plants to improve the soil. It’s like urinating in your garden, without being so gross!
- Rusty nails – Okay, so they don’t have to be rusty, but nails are great in your garden because they’re made out of iron. Your plants need iron! You can get the iron to your plants by placing some rusty nails in your watering container, or sticking a couple of nails next to your plants so that they will rust and slowly add iron to your soil. Just be sure that you don’t step on them.
- Banana Peels – These make for an excellent nutrient-rich additive to your soil. Blend them up and mix them with soil, or simply bury the whole banana peel. Either way, banana peels will provide a plethora of fantastic nutrients for your garden!
2 Weed Control Hacks
- Vinegar – Use vinegar to get rid of undesired weeds in your garden. Simply pour the vinegar over the weeds and watch them die.
- Cardboard – Use cardboard boxes as a weed barrier in your garden before laying down your mulch and topsoil. The cardboard will block out light and make it difficult for weeds to grow. Over time the cardboard will decompose and your garden will use the nutrients left behind. Some people use newspaper, but I’m not a fan of that due to the amount of ink newspaper has. I don’t need that ink seeping into my food.
4 Planting / Growing Hacks
- Coffee filters – again, I’m not a coffee drinker, but I can definitely get behind this use of coffee filters. Simply place a coffee filter as a liner in your garden pots before planting. This will make transplanting much easier by keeping all the soil together when it’s time to move the plant out of the pot and it will also prevent the soil from draining out of the pot and clogging the drainage holes as you water the plant.
- Honey – The enzymes in honey are excellent promoters of root growth which makes honey a great “root hormone” for your plants. Honey can help your roots propagate easily and have the added benefit of preventing fungal issues. This old gardening hack is definitely useful!
- Epsom Salt – If you’re moving a plant it may suffer from shock in its new location. After you’ve dug a new hole for your plant be sure that you add a tablespoon of Epsom salt covered by a small layer of soil before placing the plant in the hole. This will help prevent shock. The magnesium is great for the soil and helps with seed germination so that your plant will be healthy and fruitful.
- Packing peanuts – These are lightweight and when placed at the bottom of your planters or pots they’ll make it much easier to move that plant when it’s time. They allow great drainage and they’re cheap. Use landscape fabric, or coffee filters to prevent the soil from sinking to the bottom of the pot.
4 DIY / Recycling Hacks
- Broken Pots – Use broken garden pot pieces as labels in your garden. This makes it easy to identify your plants and creates a rustic look in your garden.
- Pallet – Here’s a great DIY for you. Pallets make for great storage solutions for your garden tools or great planters for a verticle garden. You can get a lot of gardening use out of a recycled shipping pallet.
- Pot of sand – Use a small gardening pot and fill it with abrasive sand mixed with oil. This is a great way to store your handheld gardening tools and sharpen them at the same time.
- Ladder – Using an old ladder you can quickly make a ladder plant stand to help to free up space on the ground when you bring your plants inside.
12 Wacky, Weird, & Other Hacks
- Talk the talk – So, a few years ago I watched a video on YouTube about a plant study done in a school to demonstrate the effects of bullying. Basically they had two separate plants in soundproof environments. The only sounds inside the environments were from the speakers – one projecting loving and kind words to plant A, and in the other container plant B was being bullied with nasty and harsh words. Plant B died, Plant A flourished. As it turns out, plants respond to you talking to them. Be kind. Talk to your plants. It’s in science.
- Milk – Go ahead and spritz some diluted milk on your plants and their roots to give them some extra nutrients and fight against mildew. This is a great hack and some gardeners go so far as to inject the milk directly into the plant stems. Whatever works, right?
- Aspirin – Periodically place a tablet or two of aspirin into your watering container and let the aspirin dissolve. Then go water your plants. The aspirin has salicylic acid that will help your plants become more resilient as they fight against diseases and pests.
- Dish Soap – There’s a couple of benefits of using dish soap in your garden. No, it won’t mean that your veggies are “clean” right when you pick them, but it will help get rid of aphids. The best use for dish soap in your garden is to apply it to your soil before watering to help break down oils and waxes that prevent the soil from retaining the water.
- Tea – Not something I drink, but I hear cold chamomile tea has antifungal properties and is great for helping your seedlings. Spray it on your seedlings every day to keep them strong and healthy.
- 2×4 & Wine corks – Another hack from a friend is to screw wine corks onto a 2×4, evenly spaced. Then turn the 2×4 upside down, and press into the soil. Now you have perfectly spaced holes for planting!
- Plastic Forks – I’ve heard it works, but I’ve never tried it myself. Place plastic forks in your garden with the tynes sticking out of the ground. Animals will confuse the tynes as preditors and leave your garden alone. Again, I just heard this through the grapevine. Not sure how effective it is or if a friend just wanted to see me plant a box of plastic forks in my garden. Either way, it may be a hack worth trying.
- Nails (#2) – Another use for nails that may not be in your vegetable garden, but I have fruit trees so this one is important to me. I’ve got two peach trees and last year one of them didn’t produce ANYTHING! I was so disappointed until I learned about this hack to make my tree produce again. Simply drive a nail into the trunk of the tree and watch it start production again. This is a must-know for anyone who has fruit trees that may have slowed down or stopped production.
- Coconut Water/Milk – The “juice” that comes directly out of a coconut is super rich with minerals and is great at improving root development for your plants. Spray some on and watch your garden grow!
- Seaweed – Got some seaweed lying around? Mix it into your soil and it’ll provide some great nutrients as it decays. Your plants will love it!
- Goldfish – Not the cheesy crackers, but the actual fish. If you collect rainwater you may find yourself with a stagnant water issue which results in a lot of mosquitoes. This is where the goldfish come into play. They love to eat the mosquito larvae. Place a few goldfish in your rainwater barrel and it’ll help control your mosquito population.
- Moonlight – This may just be an old wives’ tale (I’m just picturing wives getting rid of their husbands by telling them that planting at night makes for a better harvest). Anyways, that’s the story. Many people believe that planting and gardening by moonlight make for healthier plants and prevents weeds from sprouting. Another great gardening hack!